The Shack

the shack masks blog 2018
I created this digital sketch for my book, “Arrows Axes and Scythes”. Although the skills displayed are crude, the picture helps to tell my story and conveys the mood of the day.

I’ve been working on and off on a memoir, “Arrows Axes and Scythes”.  It’s an odd book.  Because it is about my early childhood, many memories are vague, but impressions are not.  As a consequence, I created pictures, using “Paint” and “Gimp”, to help recreate the scenes I recall.  The narrative below explains what is happening in the picture.  My book, in yet again under revision. I hope to be publishing it…soon.

 

As I explained earlier in this book, my first years in school were not successful. Everyone believed I was slow. This assessment persisted into at least November of the third grade, when my teacher wrote a sympathetic note to my mother and lamented my poor performance. Between November and the end of the year something remarkable happened. I learned to read. By June, I had become one of the most advanced readers in the grade.

With this improvement in skills came an insatiable appetite for reading material. There was none at home, until we discovered the shack. This humble building, shown above, was concealed by thick overgrowth in the forest. When we investigated, we found that comic books covered the floor of the ramshackle shelter. We helped ourselves to these, though we did not know who might have proper rights to them.

The shack was my library.

Reading was one of the great gifts of my life. Socially I remained awkward, but peers and teachers showed new respect simply because I seemed to be talented. The conversion from being a dolt to being an excellent student taught me an important lesson. I was the same person before and after my transformation, but people around me changed. Previously, they had punished me for being dull, a circumstance over which I had no control. And then they rewarded me for being bright, a gift I’d done nothing to earn. The folly, the sheer cruelty, of their early behavior enlightened me. It taught me to place little value on the judgment of others. And it allowed me, for the rest of my life, to see worth in people whom others disregard.

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Culture vs. Copyright: A Diary of a Naive Philosopher, Book Review

By Anatoly Volynets

 The_Stationers'_Company_Mark
This was the mark of the Stationer’s Company,
which had a monopoly on printing rights in England from
1557 to 1710.  The image is in the public domain.
……………………………………………………

Innovators often have a hard time convincing people to change the way things “have always been done”. History offers startling examples of how tightly people hold onto entrenched views. In the 1950’s, for example, early models of the kidney dialysis machine were considered “abominations” by some doctors at Mt. Sinai Hospital. And in the nineteenth century, Ignaz Semmelweiss was derided by medical colleagues for suggesting doctors should wash their hands before assisting at childbirth. So prepare yourself to resist the notions of Anatoly Volynets when you read his book, Culture vs. Copyright. In the book, Mr. Volynets suggests that artists, and the public, would benefit if copyright laws were eliminated.

Many readers may feel this discussion has little to do with them. They’re probably wrong. Just about anyone who engages in commerce or communication is affected by copyright laws. Posting a picture on Facebook may easily violate those laws, if the picture is lifted from a copyright-protected source on the Internet. Quoting extensively from a book or article also may be a violation. Of course, professional artists–authors, musicians, photographers, for example–are acutely aware of the protection and limitation that copyright law places on their actions. Most of these professionals cannot imagine operating in a system where copyright does not exist. They imagine that absent copyright protection, they will lose income from the product of their unique talents. Mr. Volynets labors to convince them–and us–that the reverse is true.

In service of his argument, Mr. Volynets traces the history of modern copyright laws. He points to a time in France (Jacobin era) and England (before 1710) when these laws did not exist and explains that their application was designed to benefit businesses and governments, not individuals. It is Mr. Volynets contention that this is still the case. He explains in detail how eliminating copyright laws would give artists greater freedom (in his opinion) to market their wares in a competitive environment. He also explains his belief that without copyright laws, competition between business would increase and this would potentially increase profits.

Mr. Volynets puts forth an interesting argument. Whether or not the reader is persuaded is almost beside the point. The aspect of this book that is most important is that it requires readers to examine an accepted custom. It asks readers to throw out established notions about the necessity of copyright laws.

Copyright laws are not written in stone. They are constantly amended. If the public does not understand who is served by the law and by the amendments, then the public cannot meaningfully participate in the discussion about these very important regulations. And if the public doesn’t participate, then the regulations will be written by powerful, vested interests. That, in my opinion, is never a good thing.
Although this book serves a worthy goal and may elicit a response from readers, it is not perfect. A device Mr. Volynets employs, for much of the book, is an imagined dialogue between first graders and a teacher. My patience was tested by these exercises. At one point I simply stopped reading the dialogues and only considered sections that had straight exposition. It is possible I lost some of the book’s significance by taking this route, but I was willing to give that up.

One of my standards for recommending a book of nonfiction is whether or not I came away with insight or information I did not have prior to reading. That is the case here. In addition to discussing the development of intellectual rights legislation in France and England, the book also addresses the origin of this class of regulation in the United States. Volynets explains that the framers of the United States Constitution looked to Europe for a model when they provided (in Article I, Section 8) for protection of intellectual property rights.

Mr. Volynets’ writing style is clear and not overly pedantic, considering the subject under consideration. I do recommend Anatoly Volynets’ Culture vs. Copyright.

 
A. G. Moore  3/2017

Navigating Indieworld: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Paperback (Book Review)

By Carole P. Roman and Julie A. Gerber

 

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Most people who write don’t enjoy the business aspect of their work. I know that’s true for me. Unfortunately, once a book is done, it’s simply a journal until it finds an audience. Carole P. Roman’s “Navigating Indieworld: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Paperback” is designed to help writers find that audience.

This book is not a quick read, and if you do read it quickly you’re cheating yourself. I began one afternoon and eagerly went through the pages until I had to stop from sheer exhaustion. There is so much to absorb.

Ms. Roman addresses her book to two kinds of authors: those who are willing to invest money upfront and those who are operating on a shoe-string budget. It seems that the greater reward comes with greater investment, but of course there is also the risk of investing and getting little in return. That’s a calculus each author has to make.

There is an operating principle in Ms. Roman’s recommendations and she readily applies it to herself: “What can I say? I have no shame,” she declares. If you are a newbie author, and self-published, your book is not likely to find its way into readers’ hands unless you’re willing to shamelessly and relentlessly present it to them. Ms. Roman tells us how to do that. She cites names and resources, but the bottom line is, the author has to be willing to do the work.

I fully believe that if writers follow the recommendations put forth in “Navigating Indieworld”, their books will sell. Of course, it all starts with the book, and that is where Ms. Roman begins her recommendations. Before promoting a book, make sure it’s worthwhile. Only trust friends and family to critique your work if they are both savvy and willing to be brutal. And be prepared to take a machete to your art, if necessary, to bring it up to snuff.

Once you’ve got a product worthy of promotion, then go through Ms. Roman’s suggestions. Look up her books on Amazon, if you doubt the reliability of her system. She has managed to publish a successful series of entertaining and educational books. More than this review, use that record as proof that she has mastered both the craft of book writing, and skill of book promotion.

A. G. Moore 11/2016